My first memory is a dream; a dream of me falling down a flight of stairs in slow motion in my parents first apartment. I am about three years old and I remember the age because I was still in a crib. Every time I would have this dream, I would fearfully jump out of my sleep, clasping the ivory bars of my crib to stand up. In the dream, everything is a dreary yellow and the air feels like oatmeal; very thick, slowing down every tumble down the stairs. And just before I reach the bottom, I always wake up. As an adult I tried to assess this dream in a positive manner. I see the fact that I never hit the bottom to mean that in life, basically, I will never allow myself to hit rock bottom. Each tumble down the steps surely does hurt, as in life, we always experience painful situations (the death of a loved one, never knowing your parents, being a victim of abuse, feeling alone) but we will never hit the bottom where we can not go on anymore. That is the positive attitude that we have to have toward life.
After that dream, one of my earliest memories is witnessing my father raping my mother at the age of five. This was a time when rape was unheard of in marriage. A man was entitled to take his “due” from his wife anytime he wanted to because she was basically his property. At the time, I didn’t know what was going on of course. As I got older, in my teenage years, I realized what it was. So it was as if I was reliving it all over again. I saw my mother trying to fight my father off, screaming at the top of her lungs. I saw her leave four deep scratches behind his left shoulder and every time I would see the scratches for weeks after that, I would remember the act in detail.
Although I can’t remember what I had for breakfast sometimes, this memory is one that I can not forget, even if I tried. I have a fantastic long-term memory. Before I didn’t know if it was a blessing or a curse but now I am glad for the ability to remember so far back in my history. Some, well most of my memories are painful, but I am thankful for them because I can learn from them. I have learned that I don’t want that type of life for myself as an adult or for my own children. Bad memories are like a detour on a map that can guide you away from ever having to experience them again. They also build character and wisdom in you that you can pass on to others. When you speak, you can lift your head up high and speak with authority. Life can definately feel like falling down a flight of stairs through thick oatmeal at times, but you will never reach the bottom. God does not allow us to experience more than we can handle.